Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Perfecting the Visual Schedule-Object Schedule

Visual Schedules run my classroom; as they should in any autism classroom.  Visual Schedules provide our students with knowledge of what their day looks like including instruction, breaks, lunch, recess, etc.
We differentiate our instruction based on an individuals need, but are we differentiating our students' schedules?

Object Schedule
Use the object schedule for the student who is still learning basic noun identification.  Think of someone with a mental age of 6 months-18/24 months.  Find miniature objects which closely resemble the actual item.  For example, for snack time, have an empty cup; bathroom, have a small toilet; library, a small book.  Place velcro on the back of the item and hang on a schedule (include the students picture and a mirror), students then take the item off of their schedule and use the object as a transition item to take to the desired location; at the location have a place for the student to match the object (object:object or object:picture).  During your 1:1 instruction time with the student begin to develop the skill of matching the object to a real picture.  Once they student has mastered the skill of matching object to a real picture, it is time to transition the student to a real picture schedule.

Check back soon for other forms of the visual schedule.  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mind the Gap - Student Work

The Mind the Gap intervention has been going well.  The students understand how to map it out.  As I had mentioned previously we began with very basic choices: Do I want to eat Carrots or Ice Cream for snack.  Mapping it out: Stop-It is snack time.  Think-If I eat carrots-They are healthy, they digest well, they are crunchy; if I eat ice cream-It is unhealthy, I could get a cavity, It is tasty.  Act-I will eat carrots.  As we expanded we introduced the concept during our social skills group when they were not in a state of acting out or crisis.  Here is a video of a student explaining what to do when he is frustrated:

We then began to implement it during/after moments of crisis.  Here is a student's work before they decided to break a rule.  

We use this almost every day and not always for negative behavior.  We use it quite a bit to teach that everything we do in life is a choice, we have even tied it in to character studies (for our higher level reading students) to map out a characters thinking.

When we use this with a student before, during or after a crisis, we send a copy home to the parents.  Our parents have all been briefed in this intervention and have copies at home to use as well.  

If you are interested in this intervention technique and would like clarification please contact me through the blog.  If you are interested in using this within your classroom, please check out the product available on my TpT store.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mind the Gap

Trying to teach students who lack empathy that their actions have consequences is challenging.  I struggle with it; there is a fine line of what and how to teach a child who takes pleasure from hurting others.  My student will give the scripted response that his choice is bad, or that the other person will be "sad" or "hurt;" however he truly does not understand that there is a consequence for him and a consequence for the person whom he has injured.  For example, if he pushes a shelf over onto another student, he understands that it is bad to do and that the other person will be "sad," but he does not understand that he loses privileges and that the other person may break a bone or bleed and not want to be around him.

I am a non-violent crisis intervention trainer, I have a background in behavior, and I have been teaching Autism and Severe behavior for over 8 years.  I keep coming across the "mind the gap" intervention but could never understand how to implement it.  I finally had that lightbulb moment!

Here's the overview:  We are all faced with choices each day and each choice brings us to a metaphorical fork in the road, each route has consequences directly related to the choices that we make.  Example:  I love shoes!  They make me very happy!  I was at the shoe store and I was faced with the choice of whether or not to buy a new pair of shoes (CHOICE).  ROAD A-If I buy the shoes I will not be able to go out for bagels and coffee each morning this week, but I will have new shoes.  ROAD B- If I do not buy the shoes, I will not have new shoes, but I can afford to eat the breakfast of my choosing this week.

Classroom Translation:  We teach our students that they are responsible for their choices and that a choice is either good or bad.  However, we never explain, or map out, what each choice means.  I have begun to implement this with my students, especially with my more aggressive students.  I phrase it in more of an if/then statement, "If you destroy property you lose your break time.  But if you follow directions you earn all of your break time."  I have begun to put this in visual form as well; we must remember that when our students are in their brain-stem thinking they are not comprehending our words, thus visuals are important!

Word of Caution:  You know your students.  I have to be very careful with my one student who enjoys violence and hurting others.  I teach him that his actions have consequences because of his future, not because I want him to be excited that he knows his actions hurt others.  I make sure not to validate that his actions hurt or upset me or others.  I try to keep emotions out of his teaching.

More to come on this later and hopefully a video of how to utilize this strategy!  A product will be up on TpT soon!